Last weekend I was very lucky to be away on the SCBWI Picture Book Writer's and Illustrator's retreat at Holland House, Cropthorne, nr Evensham. I drove Elsie the Morris Minor van 110 miles there and we had a lovely journey, once we got out of London! I did get lost at the other end, but that was my own fault for relying on technology instead of a good old-fashioned Map book. I also forgot to turn off the heater, which involves turning a small brass tap on the cylinder head, so it was rather like driving a wood-burner, but that's all part of the fun of the Morris.
Helen Stephens and Gerry Turley were speaking about their work, and we all really enjoyed reading our favourite books, and talking about the industry with editors from Hodder and Egmont.
It was great to actually spend some time thinking about all my random ideas, and deciding which ones might be suitable for the current market, and which ones are too away with the fairies! I spent an hour or so before I left adding post-it notes in all my sketchbooks so I could find the scattered remnants of rough drawings and texts for my ideas. On Saturday afternoon I managed to pull together one set of strands from these scattered fragments into a working storyboard for a picture book. It still needs a bit more work but I hope I will soon have it ready to send out on the hunt for a publisher.
View into the Rose Garden
I met lots of new people, and it was very good to be reminded that although we all spend our working time alone, with only the biscuit tin, fridge, radio and optional dog for company, there are lots of us out there all working away and trying to solve similar problems in our own individual ways. Getting together once in a while is very good for the soul.
Informal portfolio review on Sunday evening
Helen's books and Gerry's prints for sale
When Bedtime Goes Wrong, Lino cut, 2013